Ever since I found out that it’s impractical to read PDF files on a laptop on the train, I have been thinking that’s the use of tablets and smart phones. So I tried taking a tablet and see how well it would work out.
In short, it works, but not too great.
To make it clear, the reading part was absolutely fine. I was able to read at the bus stop, on the bus, and on the train. No problem at all. The problems were with the highlighting.
I couldn’t highlight individual words. When I tried highlighting phrases, the highlighting would often spill over to neighbouring words too (often starting from the left edge of the page). Perhaps it’s an Adobe Reader problem, but the highlighting was extremely imprecise.
The bigger problem, however, was when I took the train back home after the Tyler Bruler lecture: When there’s not a lot of space around you, the sleeve of your jacket would often be the thing that touches the screen. It was very difficult to click (often the screen would zoom in instead). It was even more difficult to highlight (even if I managed to highlight something as soon as my sleeve touched the screen the highlighting would go completely berserk. I had to be so careful touching the screen that even the trackpad on a laptop was easier to use.
So, if even someone wearing a winter jacket had so much difficulty using a tablet, I can’t imagine touch screens being the solution to all problems.